ENNIS — Army Sergeant Shawn Munson surprised his grandfather, former Marine Corporal Robert Gordon Macken for Christmas by making a special trip to see him at the Legend Oaks Healthcare and Rehabilitation facility.

Munson, who has spent the past five years in Afghanistan, was recently stationed at Fort Hood. He said after being away for so long, his first mission on American soil was to visit with his beloved grandfather.

“I’m very close to my grandfather,” Munson said. “He has played a very active role in my life and I thought my being here with him would make the perfect Christmas present.”

Munson said he wanted the opportunity to wish his grandfather “Merry Christmas” and to let him now how much he means to him.

As he prepared to see Macken for the first time since he’s been placed in the facility, Munson provided some insight concerning his grandfather’s condition. Macken was recently placed in there due to a fall he experienced. He has also been diagnosed with what appears to be the early stages of dementia. Macken’s daughter, Cindy Jackson, prepared Munson about what he might face.

“Grandpa is having a hard time remembering certain things,” Jackson said. “I know you’re anxious to talk to him, but just proceed with caution.”

Making his way to Macken’s room, Munson was trying to grasp everything that Jackson had discussed with him. He didn’t want to overwhelm his grandfather, but he was hoping that Macken would be able to communicate well with him. He was delighted to find that Macken seemed like his old self. He was very alert and wanted so much to talk to Munson about his time overseas.

“I’m so glad to see you,” Macken said to his grandson. “This is a very nice surprise.”

As they engrossed in conversation, Munson asked his grandpa if he liked being at the facility. Macken responded by saying, “This is a really nice place, but I can’t wait to be back in my own house.”

They not only talked about the pros and cons of being in the facility, but about their shared passion for this country.

Munson said as servicemen, this time of the year means a great deal to them, and being able to make Christmas special for his grandfather is what it’s all about.

“This is a time to focus on family, enjoy good food and sit around the fire sharing stories,” Munson said. “This is something we definitely appreciate – time and family. My grandfather means the world to me, and to be here with him right now is the greatest Christmas present we could ask for.”

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